Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Transit Freedom

Todd Litman over at Planetizen has this excellent article about automobility and freedom. He does a good job of illustrating the loss and gains from an auto focus land use pattern.
For example, is it possible that some motorists would actually prefer a transport system in which walking, cycling and public transportation were more convenient, attractive and affordable, so they could rely more on these alternatives for commuting, and to reduce their need to chauffeur children to schools and recreational activities, or senior parents to medical appointments and shopping?

In many situations, alternative modes provide more freedom than driving, because they are affordable and impose minimal costs to other people. A transportation system maximizes freedom by offering a diverse range of mobility and location options, so people can choose the combination that best meets their needs.

Automobile-oriented transportation systems and land use patterns tend to reduce freedom in many, sometimes indirect and subtle ways. Wider roads and increased motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds tend to degrade walking and cycling conditions, which also reduces access by walking, cycling and public transit. Dispersed land use patterns, with individual buildings with large parking lots located on busy arterials and highway intersections are difficult to access without a car. Investments in roads and parking facilities reduce the funding available for alternative modes, resulting in a cycle of reduced service, declining ridership and reduced service. This causes major losses of freedom for anybody who, due to physical, legal or financial constraints, lacks unlimited ability to drive.

As Litman points out, is automobile use the new cigarette?

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